Oct. 17, 2022 By Christian Murray
A documentary that follows the 15 Democratic candidates who ran for city council last year to represent the 26th District will be screened at the Queens World Film Festival on Nov. 5.
The 1 hour 38-minute documentary, written and produced by Long Island City resident Shannon Ayala, follows the candidates through the final weeks of the chaotic campaign last June. The documentary captures the personality of all the candidates and includes several one-on-one interviews, campaign rallies as well as the candidates conducting voter outreach.
The film—aptly called District 26: A New York Election Story—is one of 160 movies from across the globe that will run at the film festival from Nov. 1 through Nov. 6. Ayala’s film is one of 29 films produced by Queens filmmakers and it will be screened at the Kaufman Astoria Studios Zukor Theater on Saturday, Nov. 5 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. General admission is $15.
Ayala, a freelance journalist, said he decided to produce the documentary after meeting several candidates on a bike ride organized by Transportation Alternatives last March that started at Queensbridge Park. At the time, he said he was not there as a reporter.
“I was riding my bike with a couple of them, and they had an impression on me,” Ayala said. “And when I started seeing their posters around, I had this feeling that I wanted to show people what they are like. I wanted to share their personalities.”
Ayala said that he was fascinated by how the candidates were so different from one another. He said that some candidates were on the far left while others were traditional Democrats. Furthermore, they came from a range of backgrounds.
“The candidates were from so many different ethnic and racial backgrounds,” Ayala said. “It was reflective of the district itself and New York.”
The film follows some of the candidates around as they discuss their backgrounds. For instance, he focuses on Badrun Khan, a candidate of Bengali heritage.
Ayala said that toward the end of the film the focus moved toward Julie Won, who he believed was a front runner at the time, and Amit Bagga, a candidate who had racked up an impressive list of endorsements.
Ayala said that Won beat Bagga because she established a real rapport with voters.
“Bagga had endorsements from major figures and organizations, but those figures and organizers were not really local to the district,” Ayala said. “She didn’t have those major endorsements, but she connected to the district.”
Ayala said that he will post the movie to YouTube once it has been screened at the theater.
Date, Time & Location:
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5TH • 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm (click here for tickets)
District 26: A New York Election Story
Kaufman Astoria Studios Zukor Theater • 35th St. • Long Island City, NY 11106
KAS’s screening room seats up to 74 people.